Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh
Patna: Lalu Prasad Yadav announced on Wednesday that his Rashtriya Janata Dal will support two candidates of his arch-rival Nitish Kumar`s Janata Dal (United) in the Rajya Sabha bypolls.
Lalu said today afternoon that his party would support JD(U) nominees in order to defeat communal forces.
Reacting to Lalu`s decision Nitish said that he `welcomed` the move to support the candidates of his party.
JD(U) nominees – former diplomat and politician Pawan Varma and Gulam Rasool Balyawi are up against Independent candidates, real estate baron Anil Sharma and Sabir Ali.
Ali is a former JD(U) member and is reportedly being backed by party rebels. The by-elections are to be held tomorrow.
The JD(U) has 117 MLAs, including the Speaker in the Bihar Assembly. The BJP has 84, RJD 21 and Congress four. The CPI has one member and the strength of the Independents is five.
Last week, Nitish had sought support for Lalu for the bypolls for the Upper House. As per, Nitish the move was aimed to counter BJP`s plan to destabilise the government.
The arithmetic is said to be against the ruling JD(U). Precisely, for this reason the support of 21 RJD MLAs is being seen as crucial for Nitish`s party.
The strength of the Bihar Assembly is 243. But because of eleven vacancies, the effective strength is 232 in the House.
Lalu and Nitish have been rivals for years now, both vying to consolidate their place in the politics of Bihar. Whereas Lalu ruled Bihar from 1990 to 2005, Nitish along with ally BJP came to power in 2005 mainly on the plank of criminalisation of politics, mis-governance and non-development by the RJD in the state.
The NDA again came back to power in 2010 and Nitish became the CM for the second time. However, due to Narendra Modi`s ascendency in the party, Nitish broke his 17 year-old alliance with the BJP last year.
And after the JD(U) got a drubbing in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls ending up with only two seats in the state, Nitish resigned as CM talking moral responsibility.
On the other hand BJP and its allies won more than 30 seats in the state. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats.
Nitish confidant Jitan Manjhi was then sworn as the CM. The RJD had supported the government even then during a vote of confidence in the state Assembly. Lalu had then said that this was a one-off case.